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Subject: Re: 'An Aristocratic Art'
From: London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 30 Jun 2017 13:22:34 -0700
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I do feel that Debussy and his music tends to rebel against the values of
the generations that preceded him. There is a world of difference between
the French culture of Racine and that of de Musset, and there is a lot of
Rameau that is relatively "low-brow." Rodin, if you take Stefan Zweig's
word for it (and I do trust him with matters of both culture and the
particular personalities he writes about), was not creating art for subtle
minds or discreet hearts. He was creating art out of his own artistic
sentiments, which had more to do with sculpture than they had to do with
French culture. Several of his works are known to a wide public -- the
thinker, the kiss, the Balzac -- but not, perhaps, as early as 1918).

Aubry presents an image of French art that's hardly comprehensive and in
particular it leaves out the monumental art, including revolutionary art as
well as (obviously) Berlioz. Well, he does say 'nearly all the best
exemplifications'. And he could hardly have anticipated the art of
Messiaen. I think the Musical Quarterly was very new then, was it not? But
I expect Aubry wrote it because the editor was sensible and sensitive
enough to ask him for it. Perhaps he also wrote about Debussy in French
journals. But obituaries are usually commissioned and the chance to write
sensitively about Debussy in a foreign journal surely could have had the
worthy objective of enhancing Debussy's reputation in the USA.






On Thursday, June 29, 2017, Genevieve Castle Room <
[log in to unmask]
<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:

> Commentary by *GĂ©rard *Jean Aubry.
>
> ====Begin====
>
> The art of Claude Debussy is full of intelligence and sensitiveness. It is
> not an art calculated to appeal to the crowd; yet I cannot see that he
> therefore lays himself open to reproach, he above all. And a reproach (if
> reproach it be), which may be addressed to all French art. I cannot see the
> tragedies of Racine, one or two operas of Rameau, the comedies of Alfred de
> Musset, the sculpture of Rodin as art expression meant for the great
> public.
>
> Whether or not one wishes it, French art always remains, in *nearly* all of
> its best exemplifications, an aristocratic art, an art of cultured and
> well-educated people; an art created for *subtle minds and discreet
> hearts*.
> It is not in accord with French tradition to cry out, or to make a show of
> one's sentiments. And that which we may thus lose as regards power, we
> gain, perhaps, in penetration and delicacy.
>
> One may prefer another art. This is a matter determined not alone by the
> individual intelligence, but also by the individual temperament, the
> physical character, the national custom of the auditors. Yet, if one
> follows the road of delicacy, of refinement and subtle intelligence, the
> road of discreet feeling in the art of causing words and sounds to say all
> that they are capable of saying, and even that which it would seem they
> could not say, I do not believe it possible to go further than French art
> has done, and there is nothing which more characteristically testifies to
> the fact than the work of Claude Debussy.
>
> ====End====
>
>
> It is difficult to disagree with him, but I would be more interested in why
> he wrote this in an American journal (*Musical Quarterly*) in 1918 (apart
> from the obvious fact that it is an obituary) and what that might say about
> French anxieties over Anglo-American views of France as World War I comes
> to an end.
>
> >"And that which we may thus lose as regards power, we gain, perhaps, in
> penetration and delicacy"
>
> ..... which is exactly how France sought to position itself in the 1920s
>
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